The United Nations Security Council has voted to extend U.N. protection for Iraq's assets, a measure that shields Iraq from international lawsuits.
Security Council members unanimously adopted a resolution Monday to continue protecting Iraqi assets until December 31, 2009. The measure was due to expire at the end of this month.
Iraq's oil revenues and other financial assets are held in a U.N.-monitored account, known as the Development Fund for Iraq, to ensure they are used for the country's reconstruction. The assets cannot be seized by foreign governments or others seeking damages from Baghdad.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari welcomed the Security Council vote. After attending the session, he said the resolution is a strong signal that Iraq no longer poses a threat to the world, as it did under ousted leader Saddam Hussein.
In another development, Iraq's parliament delayed a vote that was expected Monday on whether to allow non-American foreign troops to operate in Iraq beyond this month.
Iraqi lawmakers instead held a special session to discuss removing Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani. Some lawmakers accuse Mashhadani of making comments last week that insulted the parliament.
It is not clear when the assembly will vote on a resolution allowing troops from Britain, Australia, El Salvador, Estonia and Romania to operate in Iraq until July 2009.
If the measure is not passed before a U.N. mandate expires on December 31st, the non-U.S. foreign troops will have no legal basis to operate in Iraq next year. Some Iraqi lawmakers say it is important to pass a resolution quickly to prevent such a scenario.
Washington already has signed an agreement with the Iraqi government that allows U.S. troops to operate in Iraq until the end of 2011.